The North Coast and Northern Highlands: Places to Explore


  • Barranca

    A nondescript town with little to visit except a large Chimú temple nearby, this is a stop for those who are either determined to see every archaeological site in Peru or do not have the time to go to Trujillo... Read more

  • Cajamarca

    Cajamarca is the best place to stay if you want to explore the lovely landscape and rich history of the northern highlands; from here there are a number of daylong excursions to nearby ruins and hot springs... Read more

  • Caraz

    One of the few towns in the area with a cluster of colonial-era architecture, Caraz is at the northern tip of the valley—only a partly paved road continues north. North of Caraz on the dramatic road to... Read more

  • Carhuaz

    A small, laid-back village, less touched by recent earthquakes, Carhuaz is a popular stop along the Callejón de Huaylas. A bright spot is the ice-cream shop, which scoops up excellent homemade helado.... Read more

  • Casma

    Once known as the "City of Eternal Sun," Casma, like Lima, is now subject to cloudy winters and sunny summers. However, with its leafy Plaza de Armas and a number of pleasant parks, it makes the best base... Read more

  • Chachapoyas

    At the ceja de la selva (jungle's eyebrow), Chachapoyas is the capital of Peru's Amazonas department. The town is a good jumping-off point for exploring some of Peru's most fascinating and least-visited... Read more

  • Chavín de Huántar

  • Chiclayo

    A lively commercial center, Chiclayo is prosperous and easygoing. Although it doesn't have much colonial architecture or special outward beauty, it's surrounded by numerous pre-Columbian sites. The Moche... Read more

  • Ferreñafe

    Although it's produced more winners of the Miss Peru contest than any other town, Ferreñafe has other charms. The Iglesia Santa Lucia, begun in 1552, is a good example of baroque architecture. However... Read more

  • Huanchaco

    Less than half an hour away from the city, Huanchaco is a little beach community where surfers, tourists, affluent Trujillianos, families, and couples easily mix. With excellent restaurants, comfortable... Read more

  • Huaraz

    Peru's number-one trekking and adventure-sports destination, Huaraz is an easy starting point for those wishing to explore the vast wilderness of the Cordillera Blanca. Unfortunately, the town has been... Read more

  • Lagunas de Llanganuco

  • Lambayeque

    This small town has some well-preserved colonial-era buildings, but the reason to come is for the outstanding museums. The museums' exhibits provide details about the Moche civilization, and original artifacts... Read more

  • Magdalena de Cao

    Chances are if you are coming to this small remote village in the Chicama Valley, it's to see the El Brujo archaeological complex, which is quickly growing in popularity.... Read more

  • Máncora

    This laid-back beach destination, famous for its sunshine and white-sand beaches, has excellent waves for surfing, fishing, and diving. Although the relaxed but dusty town has tourist offices, restaurants... Read more

  • Monterrey

    This area provides a quiet and attractive alternative to Huaraz. For some, it can feel isolating: there isn't a town center, just hotels and restaurants spread about. There are local hot springs and a... Read more

  • Piura

    The sunny climate, friendly people, and good food make Piura a delightful stop on your way north. Since most of the major flight and bus routes to the north-coast beaches travel through Piura, stopping... Read more

  • Playa Tortugas

  • Punta Sal

    Sit on the beach, go for a swim, and relax in the afternoon sun—just what you want from a beach resort. That's probably why Punta Sal has become a popular vacation spot in recent years. A few kilometers... Read more

  • Sipán

    This tiny village of about 1,700 doesn't offer much, but nearby is one of the country's major archaeological sites. Arrange for a taxi or tour to take you to the tomb of the Lord of Sipán.... Read more

  • Trujillo

    The well-preserved colonial architecture, pleasant climate, and archaeological sites have made Trujillo a popular tourist destination. The Plaza de Armas and beautifully maintained colonial buildings make... Read more

  • Tumbes

    About an hour's drive north of the beach resorts of Máncora and Punta Sal is Tumbes, the last city on the Peruvian side of the Peru-Ecuador border. Tumbes played a major role in Peruvian history: it was... Read more

  • Yungay

    On May 31, 1970, an earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale shook loose some 15 million cubic meters of rock and ice that cascaded down the west wall of Huascarán Norte. In the quiet village of Yungay... Read more